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Question DetailsAsked on 7/13/2017

LABOR COST OF AN HVAC INSTALL OF 3.5 TON RHEEM Condenser Model # RA1442BJ1NAAir Handler Model # RH1P4221STANJA

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You can find a number of previous questions about HVAC system cost (total) in the Home > HVAC link under Browse Projects, at lower left - but few if any on labor cost alone, and with an installed cost you do not know if the markup on the normally $1000-1500 equipment wholesale cost is 10% or 300%.

Here is one example applicable questions -

The effort needed for the installation makes a lot of difference in this - and also whether the refrigerant tubing is being changed too and the routing it takes and of course any adaption needed to fit the new unit to the existing ducting. Commonly, an installation without accessibility issues will take at least 4 manhours and commonly more like 8, and as much as 10-12 in some cases, which at normal labor billing rates of around $75-150 would mean $600-1800 if billed at straight labor rates and I have seen them done for this - though more commonly these days installation is billed at more like $2000-3000 range because new installs/replacement units are the high profit part of most contractor operations.

[The above does NOT include running new ducting - if this is an initial install, not a replacement unit, then you are typically looking at $1500-3000 additional labor depending on accessibility and size of house and number of stories, NOT including cost of any needed drywall patching /painting after the duct running.]

I think, from recent experience, that about twice the total of the equipment retail list price plus straight labor cost for the install is the "norm" for lump sum bids for new/replacement HVAC and major electrical/plumbing appliances or panels and such - so if it would normally cost $3000 equipment plus labor charges, the quote would normally be more in the $5000-6000 range. However, you can still get fair labor charges and 10-20% markupon wholesale equipment cost at times, but hard to find low price PLUS a good quality installer.

Example - recent forced air gas fired furnace replacement (with all bidders bidding exact same furnace model) - bids from $1700 to $6000, with the low bidder doing a very clean ducting fitup job (looked like an initial install - hard to tell where he spliced into the existing ductwork with the new unit) and he was in and out in about 2 hours plus about 1/2 helper time to carry new unit in and old one out. I have also recently seen tankless gas fired water heater (comparable units being bid) range from $2500-12,000, 50 gallon gas water heater replacement from $1050-3500, and A/C mini-split from $2800-9000 bids for comparable units, so an awful lot of the cost depends on how many well-rated vendors you have bid on your job. Of course, you need to start with well-rated ones, because otherwise the lowest bids will commonly result in an incompetent or shoddy job, so prequalify the bidders, THEN get bids and look at costs, asking why certain bids are far from the norm as applicable.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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